REVIEW: Limited Edition Frosted Lemon Cheerios

As the Northern hemisphere thaws from an icy winter and we drag our allergy-ridden behinds to the grocery store, a fresh ray of hope meets us — Spring Flavored Stuff.

Ah, seasonal flavors, you tasty little tropes. Pumpkin spice might have a choke hold on the fall, but which flavor will prevail to rule the spring? Carrots have tried, but they taste like nothing. For a moment, I thought this would be the Age of Raspberry, but it seemed that was a Valentine’s red flash in the pan. Therefore, I would like to present my case for lemon. The Year of Lemon is upon us. Will this drastically underrated flavor finally prevail? Cheerios is willing to find out with its new Frosted Lemon variety.

The delicate aromas of lemon and sugar are the first to meet my senses. Yep, smells like lemon. I was also pleased to see no signs of yellow color, natural or otherwise. Cheerios kept it au naturel in the appearance department. If you put these next to standard Frosted Cheerios, I don’t think I’d be able to pinpoint which one was which just by looking at them. The lemon scent is delightful and suggests they won’t be too strong.

Digging into a bowl prepared with 2% milk, I’m immediately reminded of Fruit Loops. Only these are a better, more sophisticated version. Think Fruit Loops’ older cousin who sometimes buys them alcohol. The lemon is not at all overwhelming. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if it was a bit stronger. The flavor is citrusy and sweet, reminiscent of a lemon cookie or lemon cake, but not too sweet. I should note that there is no actual lemon in the ingredient line here. It’s just a perfectly chosen and mindfully balanced natural lemon flavor. Hats off to you, Big G. These are great.

I also gave these a whirl as the topping for my fruit and yogurt breakfast. The lemon flavor gets lost easily in this application, so I’d stick to your standard milk and cereal preparation to get the full effect.

Overall, this seasonal variety is well done. The lemon is fresh, bright, and not overpowering. It’s a great way to start or end your day and a fine introduction to The Year of Lemon (please let this catch and become an actual thing).

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 14.7 oz box
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup without milk) 140 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar (including 11 grams of added sugar), and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Little Debbie Fudge Rounds and Birthday Cakes Ice Cream

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and I will keep reviewing it. That seems to be the unspoken agreement between the folks behind Little Debbie at McKee Foods Co., the Michigan ice cream makers of Hudsonville Ice Cream, and me, the enthusiastic consumer.

Fudge Rounds and Birthday Cakes are the latest additions to the successful and vast Little Debbie Ice Cream pint lineup. I found them in a freezer endcap at a local Walmart, directly across the aisle from a Little Debbie snack cake display. Clever choice.

Fudge Rounds Ice Cream

Fudge Rounds variety swirls together two types of chocolate ice cream to mimic the Fudge Rounds’ chocolate cookie and chocolate cream filling. The two ice creams, one darker chocolate and one closer to milk chocolate, had distinct flavors on their own. Over time, though, the flavor did sort of just mellow out into one “chocolate” note.

There were some hearty chocolate cookie-ish chunks in the base, and. they were tasty, but didn’t quite taste the same as the Fudge Rounds cookie. In general, I tend to prefer more inclusion pieces, so I would’ve liked more. They offered a nice disruption to the heavy chocolate flavor and overall made the Fudge Rounds Ice Cream pretty interesting and a decent match to the bakery confection.

Birthday Cakes Ice Cream

I’d read a few early positive reviews of the Birthday Cake Ice Cream already, and I think the classic imitation vanilla and almond extract flavor of an American confetti birthday cake is fantastic, so my expectations were pretty elevated. This iteration is a reliably delicious vanilla ice cream with somehow still crunchy sprinkle bits and the occasional glob of vanilla cake, but I have to say I was a little underwhelmed. Yes, it was delicious, but the Birthday Cake flavor wasn’t there as much as I wanted. I mean, you wouldn’t catch me turning this down at a bowling alley birthday party. I just think that given the track record of absolutely nailing the Little Debbie flavors on the nose, this one could have been closer.

Overall I am happy to report that I was generally delighted by these latest Little Debbie Ice Cream additions. I like how this line started with the undisputed cult favorites and then have been working down the “Oh, but do you remember THIS one?” list. I would ABSOLUTELY LOVE to see a banana marshmallow pie iteration. Please and thank you!

Purchased Price: $2.50 each
Size: One Pint
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Fudge Rounds), 7 out of 10 (Birthday Cake)
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) Fudge Rounds – 210 calories, 10 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 20 grams of sugar (including 16 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein. Birthday Cakes – 230 calories, 10 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 23 grams of sugar (including 18 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Doritos Sweet & Tangy BBQ

Doritos Sweet & Tangy BBQ Bag

Of all the chip flavors I’ve tried and enjoyed, I don’t believe I’ve ever had barbeque-flavored Doritos. I believe there’s a Bold BBQ flavor available in Canada, but I guess every time I’ve been north, I’ve prioritized All Dressed chips instead. BUT NOW, a new Doritos flavor is available in the US — Doritos Sweet & Tangy BBQ.

Doritos Sweet & Tangy BBQ inside the bag

True to Doritos’ well-established brand identity of delivering bold flavors, these Sweet & Tangy BBQ Doritos looked and smelled like they were full of flavor right out of the bag. There was a strong aroma of vinegar, sweet barbeque, and tons of seasoning powder.

Doritos Sweet & Tangy BBQ dark seasoning

Maybe it’s because this particular seasoning is pretty dark, but these looked very heavily seasoned, which I prefer. But the taste really did surprise me a little bit. First of all, the corn chip flavor stands out MUCH more with this than it does in the traditional Doritos Nacho Cheese flavor. I’m not entirely sure why but I think it’s because the nacho cheese seasoning is much more salty and savory, and this chip is pretty sweet.

The other surprise is the distinct lack of smoke. Maybe I should have assumed this with a name like Sweet & Tangy, but this relies heavily on the BBQ flavor spectrum of tomato, vinegar, and brown sugar. I didn’t find it smoky at all, and it was very much NOT like the standard BBQ potato chip flavors you’d find at the market. There was a crisp acidic tang in the finish and aftertaste.

Overall I found these Doritos to be pretty unique. I think they’ve managed to hit a BBQ flavor in a super specific way with the sweet acid punch while still delivering a crowd-pleaser. I still prefer the OG Nacho Cheese flavor, but this is a compelling addition to the Doritos lineup.

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 9.25 oz bag
Purchased at: Mariano’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (about 11 chips) 150 calories, 7 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Reese’s Puffs, and Trix Minis Cereals

I’ll be the first to admit I’m enchanted by the “tiny” versions of normal things. Travel-sized toiletries are charming. I marvel at the itty-bitty individual glass Heinz ketchup jars accompanying room service trays, even if I’m usually not the person ordering room service. My friend got me a Bonne Maman advent calendar this year, and to my absolute joy, I now have a collection of TEENTSY JARS OF JAM. Maybe some of you are nodding along, thinking, “Yes. Of course. DUH.” While other readers out there are already rolling their eyes. Well, ROLL right along, haters, because General Mills has made three of its Big G cereals MINIATURE: Trix Minis, Cinnamon Toast Crunch Minis, and Reese’s Puffs Minis.

These minis do live up to their name. They’re so smol. The first thing I notice is that their size makes snacking on these cereals hard. Attempting to taste these as a “dry” snack, I feel like a giant ogre trying to cram lentil-shaped noms into my ogre face. They scatter everywhere. I freak out that my dog might eat them. I clean up the kitchen and revert to standard cereal bowls.

Starting with Cinnamon Toast Crunch Minis, I prepare the serving suggestion of one cup cereal + 3/4 cup milk. It does look like a lot more food when they’re this miniature. I was also surprised that General Mills didn’t try to make CTC tiny little squares. It might have been harder, but it would have taken the wow factor up a notch. Still, these little CTCminis taste very similar to their toast-shaped brethren with, dare I say it, even more cinnamon flavor? Maybe it’s a surface ratio thing? They stay crunchy SLIGHTLY longer than standard CTC, but not by much. And, of course, the characteristic cinnamilk is still present. Hello old friend.

The mini Trix sort of look like what would happen if all of the berry fruit flavor Trix fell apart into their own individual spheres. These Trix Minis are not fruit-shaped, but have artificial colors and are visually the most exciting of the three mini flavors. Can you even get the Trix cereal in full-sized spheres, or was that a temporary thing from about five years ago when they made Trix with natural colors until enough consumers demanded the vibrant original be brought back? Regardless, the Trix Minis pack that same sugary punch of flavor. They stay crunchier in the milk longer than the CTCMinis, and I’m guessing a sugar coating drives that. They also don’t hurt your teeth nearly as much to crunch into because the mini-sized spheres crunch completely under your bite.

I saved Reese’s Puffs Minis for last. Reese’s Puffs were the cereal my mom NEVER let me have growing up, which only drove my desperation and adoration deeper into my heart. My favorite way to enjoy Reese’s Puffs is as a dry cereal snack which, as mentioned earlier, is super difficult and extra messy in this miniature form. However, these mini little guys are great. The ratio of flavor coating to inner cereal puff seems to have been perfected here, and the puffs reach optimum saturation level faster and sustain it longer than with the larger version. There are also WAY more pieces in every bite which adds, I think, to the flavor experience and overall satisfaction.

The final bit of fun offered with these new Minis is the kitchen play set you can build yourself from cut-outs in the back of each box which entertained this adult for a solid hour or so in the afternoon I picked these up. Overall I admire the simplicity of this innovation. The flavors are established favorites, offered in a unique format that makes your already beloved cereal treat even more enjoyable.

Or, you know, it’s just the same thing but tiny. Dealer’s Choice.

Purchased Price: $4.89 each
Size: 12.3 oz box (Cinnamon Toast Crunch), 10.8 oz box (Trix), 11.7 oz box (Reese’s Puffs)
Purchased at: Mariano’s
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Cinnamon Toast Crunch), 7 out of 10 (Trix), 9 out of 10 (Reese’s Puffs)
Nutrition Facts: Cinnamon Toast Crunch (1 cup cereal) 170 calories, 5 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Trix (1.25 cup cereal) 150 Calories, 2 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Reese’s Puffs (1 cup cereal) 160 Calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Zapp’s Voodoo and Jazzy Honey Mustard Pretzel Stix

It’s hard to stand out in the chip aisle. There are so many brands, flavors, and formats, and the most popular are repeated between competitors — sour cream & onion, something cheesy, something spicy, something cheesy AND spicy, etc.

So I have to give some kudos to Zapp’s for the sacred space they’ve carved out for themselves with the “Voodoo” flavor. The brand recently expanded its snack offerings with Sinfully Seasoned Pretzel Stix in two flavors — New Orleans Style Voodoo and New Orleans Style Jazzy Honey Mustard.

I expected the honey mustard one to be the milder flavor of the two, so I started with those. I was impressed by the amount of seasoning because they looked like they’d definitely leave you with some Cheeto-like finger residue. They delivered a classic honey mustard taste, leaning more towards the sweeter end of the spectrum. I did think the pretzel itself was a little dry and crumbly. But overall, these were a nicely balanced sweet honey and savory mustard snack.
?The more unique of the two was the Voodoo seasoning. A coworker once described Voodoo as “barbeque mixed with salt and vinegar,” and I don’t think that description is too far off! These pack a big punch, flavor-wise, and the paprika and turmeric give them a bright color. Although, I did notice significantly more broken pieces in the bag.

The flavor of these Voodoo Pretzel Stix is bright, acidic, and very similar to the Voodoo chips. They do lean a little sweet, similar to the honey mustard ones. It makes sense that the same seasoning wouldn’t taste the same on a pretzel as it would on a kettle chip. I also thought the Voodoo pretzels were a bit dry, but the flavor more than made up for it.

Overall I think if you’re a fan of Voodoo, you will want to get your hands on these. And as Utz owns a vast range of pretzel and chip formats, I’m hopeful for more iterations on the base carrier or maybe more of Zapp’s flavors in the future.

Purchased Price: $5.99 each
Size: 16 oz bag
Purchased at: Jewel Osco
Rating: Jazzy Honey Mustard (7 out of 10), Voodoo (8 out of 10)
Nutrition Facts: (15 pretzels) Jazzy Honey Mustard – 120 calories, 5 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 300 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Voodoo – 120 calories, 5 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 400 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.